Vince Megna, the self-described “Lemon Law King,” has filed a writ of mandamus asking a Dane County judge to block a law because of what he sees as an error-prone form that litigants are required to fill out to make a claim.
Megna, of Aiken & Scoptur SC, filed the suit Thursday against the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, WisDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
It concerns a law passed in December that applies to new vehicles on which the manufacturer fails to repair a warranty-covered defect even after four tries in one year, or fails to provide a timely refund or replacement. Previously, car owners had six years to sue the carmaker, with mandatory double damages. Now they have three years, and they only can get actual damages.
According to the suit, though, a notice and nonconformity report, which claimants are required to file, is “replete with errors including errors of statutory law and case law.” Megna claims it does not comply with the new law and could hinder a claimant’s attempt to file suit.
Megna is asking Judge Peter Anderson to enjoin the WisDOT from putting out new forms until they mesh with the new law. He also asks him put the old law into effect until the supposed deficiencies are fixed.
A spokeswoman for WisDOT, Peg Schmitt, did not immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment Thursday.
Megna was approached by a WisDOT attorney in April to help interpret the law and draft the forms. But Megna declined, saying it would be a conflict given that he expected to bring cases against car manufacturers and dealers.
Megna included copies of the emails he exchanged with the WisDOT attorney to help bolster his argument that the department was having difficulty understanding its duties under the law.
“In my personal opinion, this provision may virtually gut the law,” WisDOT attorney John Sobotik wrote to Megna on April 25 about a form created by the department. “What consumer is going to know he/she has to provide a silly WisDOT form to a manufacturer in order for the Lemon Law to apply to repairs they have done?”
The lemon law changes had broad bipartisan support in the Legislature and the backing of car dealers and manufacturers, including General Motors, trial attorneys and the state chamber of commerce.
Megna has filed more than 3,000 lemon law cases over the past 25 years and won a $618,000 judgment in a 2012 lemon law case against Mercedes-Benz USA LLC.
The Associated Press also contributed to this report.